The lifetime ban on men who have sex with men from donating blood should be lifted ("Why Can't Men Who Have Sex With Men Donate Blood?" Viewpoint, October 2010). The article notes that, since 1983, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has placed a lifetime blood donation ban on men who've had sex with men—even once—since 1977.
It's estimated that 38% of the adult population is eligible to donate blood, although it's believed far fewer actually do so.1 As the average American life span continues to increase, many more people are living with chronic conditions, such as hemophilia and sickle cell conditions, that require blood transfusions, and these numbers will only increase. The 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza demonstrated the need for even more people to donate blood.
Enhanced blood screening methods now make it easy to screen all blood, regardless of the source. To reduce the risk of collecting tainted blood, the FDA should ban, for a definite period, any potential donor who has engaged in risky behaviors.
Chimezie Agomoh, student nurse
1. Riley W, et al. The United States' potential blood donor pool: estimating the prevalence of donor-exclusion factors on the pool of potential donors. Transfusion